Gloam Collective wears its influence on their sleeve with their new Early Access title Bravery Network Online; a Pokemon-esque turned based RPG with a style and flair that surpasses the inspiration. Bravery Network Online boasts an art style reminiscent of the colorful works of Bryan Lee O’Malley and a soundtrack that bumps with upbeat pixie electronica that you won’t want to stop listening to. And, despite being early in the process, the current iteration is a great proof of concept.
In Bravery Network Online you’ll start off as “Becker,” a digital coach for a team of immortal ruffians who love to spar. As the Becker, you issue commands to every member of your team individually, telling them when and how to attack. Battles in the present build can have teams of up to 5 members. The battles of bravery are 1v1 brawls with team members squaring off, who can be tagged in and out at the cost of a turn. The battle concludes when either team has no more members left standing. Each team member comes with stats in three elements: Physical damage, Digital Fire, and Emotion. Both offensive and defensive stats are visible on screen for every fighter, so it’s easy to compare and understand when to swap teammates for more advantageous ones. If the opposing team is using heavy physical damage, it would be beneficial to tag in someone with high physical defense. The rock, paper, scissors elemental system is easy to understand but throws in some added twists.
Throughout combat in Bravery Network Online, there is a secondary gauge that fills, charging a battery meter. This meter can be expelled to give attacks an extra “flourish” or parry an oncoming attack. The flourishes add a status ailment or power up an attack, while the parry can destroy the meter entirely but save you from a death blow when timed correctly. The battery meter accompanies other effects and items such as status ailments, sacrificial boosts (boosting an attack by sacrificing other stats), healing ability and equippable gear. These additions vary combat enough to feel like multiple tactics can be used to win any match and that good strategy can push through any defense.
Combat aside, the dialogue in Bravery Network Online is dripping with sarcasm and wit. There are dialogue choices, but they seem to only be present to add flavor, with no discernible outcome other than to give player agency to the comedy. The character design shows a cartoony hip approach combining the look of Scott Pilgrim vs. the world with cyberpunk graffiti. Unfortunately, the amount of characters can seem limited at the moment, especially when repeats are seen in larger 5 man battles. The roadmap does include new characters in future updates but the current iteration contains a few more unlockable teammates with in game currency. The soundtrack is hype material, mostly happy upbeat EDM plays throughout but it kept my toes tapping and head bobbing. I would be lying to say I didn’t leave a battle going longer just to keep the music bumping in my living room.
While there’s a lot to like with Bravery Network Online, it’s worth mentioning that in its current state, installation and server issues plague the game, and in the course of completing this review, I had to reinstall the game multiple times. Also, though Bravery Network Online is obviously online PVP focused, there is very little story content at the moment, but updates are frequent and developers are communicative with their roadmap. If ongoing progress is made towards this promising prototype, there’s a bright future, and Bravery Network Online will be worth wishlisting.
Bravery Network Online is available now in Early Access on Steam.
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